In an earlier post, I wrote how I stopped settling for less and finally attracted a good guy in my life. I wish I could say: And they lived happily ever after. THE END. But that wasn’t the case yet.
Just like in any good fairy tale, there was a monster obstructing the couple’s happiness. Normally, it’s the prince’s task to slaughter the monster. But in this fairy tale the task was mine. And the monster was ME. As usual.
I’ve been on the spiritual path for many years now and I fought so many battles. I successfully defeated the “bad guy”, learned how to deal with them and not fall for them anymore.
How many battles did I have to fight?
Well, probably many more. That’s life. After my victory over the bad guy, it was now time to learn how to deal with a good guy.
I can see those question marks appearing on your face. What’s so difficult about dealing with a healthy partner? Isn’t that what we all want?
If human were always rational, there would be no need for me to write this post. Or even this entire blog, for that matter. I’m irrational. And I’m not the only one. I know that many people will relate to what I am saying. Probably even you. Why else would you read this post?
Being with a good guy can sometimes trigger us just as much as being with a bad guy. It can feel even worse, because we can’t put our finger on it. We miss the spark and the excitement of dating with Mr. Unattainable. But on the other hand we have all we wanted on paper… So what exactly are we longing for? Why is this theoretically easy relationship so difficult in practice?
Fortunately, I’ve got good news for you: Even though we are irrational, doesn’t necessarily mean we act for no reason. There is always an underlying cause for our behaviour. And finding out the cause will eventually lead us to the cure which might prevent us from running away from a great guy…
(Before I start: obviously “good girls” exists as well. But for the sake of simplicity, I will continue referring to the good guy.)
Let’s start with this essential question:
What is a “good guy”?
There is huge difference between genuine good guys and those in disguise. A genuine good guy is someone who is centred and self-loving. Someone to whom giving attention, appreciation and affection comes naturally. The communication with such a person flows easily. There is no need for interpreting messages or wondering why he doesn’t reply. If you’re with a good guy, you’ll know there is no need to second guess his behaviour. He’s trustworthy and transparent.
Be aware that a good guy doesn’t equal a cute little puppy. He won’t always do what you want. On the contrary. He will do as he pleases. Because he loves himself and knows what he wants. He knows that doing something just for your sake has nothing to with love. Loving acts come forth from love, not from guilt, pressure or fear. Or self-interest.
And this is exactly what marks the difference to the good guy in disguise. At first he looks like a good guy: he gives you attention, appreciation and affection. He reads every wish from your eyes and constantly reassures you of his commitment by texting and calling frequently.
Unfortunately, the source of these acts is not love, but a lack of self- esteem. He thinks that he’s only worthy of love if he earns enough “credits”. So, in fact it’s just a trading system: I give you love, if you give me love. Because without your love I feel like I’m not good enough. And I need someone to make me feel worthy. And that’s you.
This does not only leave you with acts of inauthentic love, it also leaves you with the burden of expectations. Congratulations, you are now responsible for his feeling of self-worth! His fragile self-worth tends to be bruised pretty easily, so you need to be super careful in order to not crush it. Naturally, you will start walking on eggs in order to not trigger a wave of self-pity from your partner’s side.
So, first of all get clear on what kind of good guy you are dealing with. If you recognize the second type in your partner, maybe your feelings of not being satisfied are more than justified. Talk to your partner and try to find ways of working this out. Obviously, there is work to do on both sides.
If you rather identify your partner as the first one, you’ll have to do most of the work. It’s your task now to tame that inner demon. Certainly, your prince is not perfect either and he’ll have to do some work as well. But for now let’s concentrate of what you can do to give your good guy a realistic chance.
Update your brain
I remember very well my first panic attack in my relationship. We had just spent the first time more than a week together and went on holidays. The time we had spent together was wonderful! We had so much fun together and I could really feel the two us becoming more and more connected.
Then I went back home again (we lived 2.5 hours apart from each other). Once I was home, I really enjoyed seeing my friends again and tell them everything about my blooming romance. I enjoyed it so much, I suddenly realized I didn’t really miss him. Life without him seemed to be just as enjoyable as with him. The idea of seeing him again did make me happy, but at that very moment I was completely fine not seeing him. This is a feeling I was not used to.
Normally, I’d miss my partner every minute he’s not around me. The fact that this feeling was missing brought me straight into a panic attack. This couldn’t be normal! I had to miss him, otherwise it would just mean that I don’t love him. My heart was racing as I was trying to figure out how to tell the poor boy it was already over again.
Fortunately, this internal conversation only took a couple of minutes. Feeling that something was wrong, I decided to meditate and watch my thoughts rather than engaging in them.
“This just can’t be right. I’ve had more than enough partners to know that this is not a normal feeling to have when you’re supposed to be in love. Normally, I’d be thinking about him all the time. I’d wonder where he is, what he is doing, whether he is thinking of me… And now, it seems like I couldn’t really care whether he thinks of me and what he is doing. This is just not the way it should be!”
After witnessing this conversation, I started wondering: What is “normal” actually? Who defines what is “normal” in a relationship? Right away I realized my past relationships were far from normal! Was I going to use these lousy examples as measures of what healthy love looks like? Don’t think so…
I went back to my past relationships and felt into that “love” and “missing” that I used to feel. To my surprise, I realized that these feelings had nothing to do with love but with pain! I didn’t “miss” my partners, I was feeling anxiety. I was worrying whether they really loved me, whether they were just having an affair and whether they would ever really commit to me. Not being around them made me feel like I was losing control over them…
I could clearly see my masochist tendencies within my relationships. Without the pain it somehow didn’t feel real, as if love and pain were inseparable. But the tide had turned. And I had decided to give my brain an update: Love did not equal pain anymore, but respect, trust and freedom.
Integrate the update
Unfortunately, a simple update is not going to do the trick. Once again: we’re not as rational as we like to think. Even though my brain was updated to the latest version of LOVE, I was still not healed.
Hadn’t I learned that love was about respect, trust and freedom? Didn’t I know perfectly well by now that I was worthy of love? Obviously, a part of me still didn’t get the point. Because at the moment suprême, when I was receiving respect and love and my partner was showing me that I was worthy of love, all I could do was break down in tears.
Yes, my response to my partners loving and caring behaviour was a flood of tears… It just felt all too much, as if I didn’t deserve all of this. I just couldn’t handle the fact that he consistently accepted me the way I am. I immediately looked for ways to “pay him back”, but couldn’t come up with anything that made sense. Not being able to give anything back made me feel so worthless and undeserving. I hadn’t felt like this in a long time…
Where did it go wrong? What had happened to the update? Where was the missing link?
The missing link was the actual cause for my behaviour: my inner child. From the get-go it had been the reason for my false beliefs concerning love and the fact that I had felt unworthy in first place.
I had tried to cure an irrational, emotional problem with rationality. This might be a great start, but in order to really bring about change and healing, we need to do emotional work.
I had already done my fair share of emotional work and my inner child has healed considerably over the past years. But this does not take away that it still needs attention. Especially when you’re about to emotionally open up to another person. These are our most vulnerable moments in which we should be aware of those hurt and traumatised parts of ourselves (which I like to refer to as my inner child). Give your inner child the time it needs to heal. It needs to learn to trust again. Not only in another person, but also in itself.
The outburst gave me the opportunity to reconnect with myself again. I had to allow my inner child to grieve, to be suspicious and to dwell in self-doubt. I just had to accept it the way it was, just the way my partner had accepted me. Patiently. Lovingly. Unconditionally.
So, please don’t give up on yourself when you finally (after years of soul searching!) meet your prince on the white horse and your only reaction is a panic attack. It’s normal. We need time to put what we’ve learned into practice.
Don’t expect miracles just because you’ve got a new insights. The new insights are great, but so are our breakdowns. Over time they might appear less frequent or less intense, but they will inevitably come. And I’m glad they do. I still have moments in which I feel undeserving and I cry. And that’s perfectly fine. These moments force me to remind myself to stay mindful, loving, respectful and patient towards myself. It’s a way to integrate my new mental updates into my entire system. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually.